I like to think I am a feminist. A fairly good feminist, too. I understand how intersectionality works (intersectionality = inclusiveness, in the short definition), I don't ever qualify my opinion by saying, "oh, but I am not one of those fat, hairy, lesbian feminists," I take time to listen to the views of people and do my own views the diligence of being quite good at defending them.
But issues arise, because of course issues arise. I am quite a feminine young person. I regularly wear heels until my feet ache, I have more dresses than you can shake a stick at, I am slowly mastering the art of liquid eyeliner, and I own at least one push-up bra. While my small obsession with pantsuits and desire to take over the world may alleviate issues associated with any of the above things, the heels thing is a regular sticking point for me.
Because as they say in She's the Man, "heels are a male invention designed to make women's butts look smaller, and to make it harder for them to run away."
Except, they weren't. Heels were used by male horseback riders in the 9th century to stop their feet from slipping out of stirrups while they destroyed their enemies. I myself am guilty of rocking heels on a bicycle and it's surprisingly effective. Another notable heel wearer was King Louis XIV of France. It's only in recent times that heels have become predominantly feminine footwear.
Besides, a chunk of your problem can be avoided by correct heel technique. If you're picking heels for your ball or other occasion when you are going to be on your feet or moving around a bunch, get either a low ("kitten") heel, a thick heel or a wedge heel. This is a pretty good general rule for heels, but I also totally understand that sometimes you can find some mad cute stilettos.
Do stretches before and after putting on heels by pointing and flexing your feet to limber up. I have spent too many evenings with my feet in a bucket of warm water to not advise this! (Also, putting your feet in a bucket of warm water feels great, regardless of whether you've injured yourself with poor shoe choices).
Be aware of your centre of gravity and what that means for walking, to minimise the risk of falling off your feet and injuring your ankles. Practice walking in them and make sure your posture is okay. If you slump, your ankles and knees are going to be unsafe, and you need them for things.
Pharmacies sell what I refer to as "wonderful foot feel good in heels pads," but I think they are called gel pads or magic feet or something like that. I have never been pointed to the wrong stuff though. They are about $20, but can be used in different pairs of shoes, although their sticking power decreases with each use. Seriously worth it as well.
If you can, buy shoes with insoles. That's basically what the wonderful pads are, because most heels don't support your feet very well.
It is your choice to wear or buy heels, because it is always your choice what you wear or purchase. But if you're going to get into heels, it's nice to know how to wear them so your feet don't ache afterwards, and I certainly find it reassuring that they have arisen from terrifying warriors on horseback. If you rock heels, use them to help you take over the world. ▼